Illuminating the Amida Sutra


Grade Level: 8, High School, Young Adult, Adult

Keywords: Amida Sutra


  • After this lesson, the student will
    • know the name of their section of the Smaller Amida Sutra
    • create an illumination (representation) of this section of the Amida Sutra


  • Blank paper
  • Color markers
  • Pens
  • Worksheet Worksheet.pdf
  • Amida Sutra Translation Smaller_Amida_Sutra.pdf
  • Other media depending on the illumination
  • Small plastic bags
  • Small pieces of towel paper (2 x 2 inches roughly)


  • Day 1:
    • Make copies of the worksheet for the class (depends on # of teams)
    • Distribute a set of color markers to each table
    • Prepare "smells"
      • Saturate a paper towel square with cinnamon and little bit of water
      • Saturate a square with after-shave lotion
      • Saturate a square with lemon or orange juice
  • Day 2+:
    • Prepare the materials for whatever the form of the illumination


  1. Day 1
    1. Opening Gassho
    2. Welcome
      1. Explain that today we're going to do an illumination of the Amida Sutra which is one of the 3 Pure Land Sutras upon which Jodo Shinshu is based on.
      2. Of course, illuminations in ancient times were: paintings on walls, paintings on paper and sandpainting.
      3. We'll start today with sitting meditation to clear our minds
    3. Sitting Mediation
      1. Pass out blank paper to each student; Explain that this is for the next exercise
      2. Explain that the whole objective is to clear the mind by slowing it down
      3. Ask students to close their eyes.
      4. You will have thoughts and ideas. Just acknowledge it and "let it go"
      5. Start by breathing in and out on count of 10
      6. Should be at most 5 minutes (you choice on stretching/shortening this).
    4. Imagination Exercise
      1. Go directly into this from Sitting Meditation
      2. Tell students that you will read a word, then they should open their eyes and draw a picture or write words to describe what comes to mind.
      3. Give 30 seconds to draw/write
      4. Tell student to close their eyes
      5. Words: "Amida", "Pure Land", "Enlightenment", "Wonderful Fragrance", "Wondrous Colors"
      6. Tell the student to smell a bag and write down/draw what thought it invokes
    5. Worksheet
      1. Describe the project: Use your imagination to "illuminate" the Amida Sutra. This could be a picture, poem, video, webpage, song, music, rap, etc.
      2. Get into teams (3 or 4 people)
      3. Each team fills out a Worksheet. Assign section of Amida Sutra.
      4. Each team does research. (This may be done outside of class)
      5. Write down "What we are going to do"
    6. Present
      1. Each team presents their proposal
      2. Other teams provide constructive comments
    7. Remind students of what's going to happen on other days
    8. Closing Gassho
  2. Day 2+
    1. Opening Gassho
    2. Pass out the Worksheet to the Team
    3. Teams do research or work on the project
    4. Closing Gassho
  3. Presentation Day
    1. Opening Gassho
    2. Each team prepare what they will say in the presentation. Their section of the Amida Sutra must be recited.
    3. Each team presents (If desired this may be recorded)
    4. Discussion of what they learned/what section they liked
    5. Closing Gassho


  • Ask what they learned during the Presentation Day discussion.


This is possibly a 3 day or even a 4 day lesson depending on the way that the students choose to illuminate the Amida Sutra


{One line: First & Last name, Email address(if you have one), Affiliated Temple/Church, Year written}

Mas Nishimura,, San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin, 2015